Saint Louis Emcee BATES Rhythmically Stomps in black leather Converse across the steps of one of the city’s many historic cathedrals, as she recites her own interpretations of scripture, she’s backed by a choir of angelic voices. Her message is loud and crystal clear, “Tell Jesus”…See verse 2 of the official video below from her latest album “For Colored Folk”.
Unapologetically Black, Gay, and Female, in a country ran by White, Heterosexual (questionable at times) Patriarchs and in a city known for racist politics and Police brutality, Bates stays true to N.W.A’s mantra of being an unfiltered reporter of her experience of living in modern America. She embodies everything that the establishment fears, intelligence, dedication, and leadership skills. These things make her dangerous to them, but a champion to oppressed souls everywhere.
On the cusp of releasing her next album “Strange Woman” in August and riding a wave of buzz worthy live shows, it’s an exciting time for the young artist. We got a chance to catch up with her and ask her a few questions about her latest projects.
Hensley: Who was your production team on “For Colored Folk“? Who are you working with on “Strange Woman”?
BATES: “For Colored Folk” was basically a joint venture with my in-house producer TRUE On Tha TRAC. He produced about nine joints. We also had Average Jo on a couple of them and I produced a couple as well. I also had a K Da Great beat on there. Strange Woman is TRUE On Tha TRAC, Muzic Boy from Chi-town, Sketch from Groundbreaking Beatz, DJ Whonitis, E Haynes and Kay GW. So yeah, I have a variety of dopeness on the production end this time.
What can we expect from “Strange Woman” that differs from your previous projects?
I started rapping with a hardcore group named Xplicit over a decade ago. We were known for our lyricism and aggression, but also our ability to still have fun. While I was solo, I basically kept that same ball rolling and even when I linked with H.A.R.D Asylum, the music was pretty much the same. After we released Tha Committed, I followed with The Great DeBates then For Colored Folk. Both of those were heavy, politically and socially charged projects. What I wanted to do with Strange Woman was sort of bring back the fun. I want this one to resonate with the younger crowd, but in a mature way. In the last two projects, I kinda sacrificed the braggadocio for the message. I’m certainly giving my listeners a different and more creative side of myself. They won’t know what to expect and I like to keep it that way. That’s what makes me strange, so to speak. I definitely want to avoid being placed in the “conscious box” and remind the hip-hop community that I can write anything I want.
Who are the Saint Louis Femcee Nation? What is their message?
Femcee Nation Organization is a collective of women in the music industry and entrepreneurs who use each other as a support system in order to have level playing ground in a male-dominated environment. People talk about it like it’s some sort of dance crew or rap group or sorority when it’s more like a musicians union for women and a sisterhood.
Who are some of your favorite Lyricists? DJs?
I have a lot of favorites. As far as natives, I enjoy Kenny Knox, Tef Poe and the Knuckles. DaVyne Truth is cold too. There are so many. As far as globally, I dig Big Krit, Kendrick Lamar, Eminem, Fiend, DMX, 2Pac, Kanye West and a bunch of other people. Mia X is probably one of my favorite female rappers, along with B.O.S.S. and Lauryn Hill. My favorite DJs are homegrown. Boogie Corleone, Smitty, Nico Marie, Rico Steeze, Kimmy Nu, Twinny Twin. They support my grizzy and are talented as well. Honestly though, I don’t listen to a lot of rap. I jam to soul and oldies most of the time.
What is the first thing you would do if elected mayor of Saint Louis?
St.Louis is so messed up, especially when it comes to the youth. I’d have to put forth a set of initiatives they can directly benefit from. That means everything from funding public schools and programs, job training, mentoring, recreation, financial education might even be a mandatory curriculum. I might even challenge our media outlets who pump poison into our kids’ minds. No more teaching them how to bag some product before we teach them how to read. Our media should be held accountable. I can’t change what is already done but I can effect the future.
What can you tell us about your most recent project “The Whole Thing?”
“Whole Thing” is the first single from Strange Woman. It’s meant to make you dance while sneaking in a message. That joint is about desperation but I think I did a good job of making it sound like it’s about drugs, sex and money. Stevie Wonder was good at saying depressing things in upbeat ways. That’s something I’ve been doing for a while now. They’ll get this message one way or another. I gotta reach these kids.
Any activism goals for 2017?
I’m always actively fighting oppression. That’s in my genetic makeup as long as bullsh** is in the fabric of America. I do that through music all the time, but instead of focusing on the cliche terminology, I’d rather just keep organizing. I’m not looking for a fight, I’m actively seeking solutions. I’m not looking for a reason to protest, I’m looking for progress.